Can Malaysia get out of the information black-hole as a result of snail-pace broadband to join the ranks of super-fast broadband nations?

I have received a report from my IT Manager Goh Kheng Teong on his meeting at a TM Customer Engagement convened by Telekom Malaysia last Friday on July 31, 2009 in Bangsar following his constant badgering of Telekom Malaysia with complaints about atrocious Streamyx service with little results.

The Engagement was attended by seven customers and some 30 TM staff led by Jeremy Kung, Executive Vice President, Consumer and Chief Executive Officer of TM Net Sdn. Bhd.

I find Goh’s report of great public importance if Malaysia is get out of the information black-hole as a result of snail-pace broadband to join the ranks of super-fast broadband nations and be among the front band of internationally competitive nations.

I have decided therefore to make Goh’s report public to initiate a public debate to ensure that Telekom Malaysia is not allowed to abuse its monopoly position to impede Malaysia’s long-delayed quantum leap to become an information and communications technology power.

This is the relevant parts of Goh’s report on his meeting with TM staff in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur on July 31, 2009:

Jeremy Kung, Executive Vice President, Consumer & Chief Executive Officer of TM Net Sdn Bhd started presentation on overview of TM Net position in the market and continue on to explain the architecture of Streamyx from a very high level perspective. In the presentation also, he explains the plans of TM Net such as improving customer service, providing information to customers on PC maintenance and Fair Usage Policy in the pipeline.

Among the statistics presented that caught my attention were Internet penetration by user is only 6.1% (per population). Internet penetration by household is over 30%. And TM Net owns the lion share at 75% of the market.

The other statistics which sticks was the proportion of fault caused by customer vs. TM Net. In June 2009, 31% fault of customer and the rest was TM Net fault. June 2009 sees an increased of fault caused by TM Net compared to December 2008 as presented by Jeremy Kung.

A customer who participated seek to clarify whether it is true that most of the time fault lies at TM Net side. The staff present confirmed the figures. Which draw comments from other participating customers on modus operandi of TM Net call centre that lay blame on the customers first before anything else. Later on some one highlighted that he was asked to format his computer to improve his Streamyx speed.

During the presentation on Fair Usage Policy, which TM Net says they are studying and finding the right tweak for the network before implementing. At this juncture, I asked what is TM Net’s International Bandwidth per customer (kbps/customer). A long explanation without going into specific about how TM Net use some formula to have certain level of bandwidth for customers.

After repeated request for information on available International Bandwidth per customer (IBPC) which is an international measurement parameter on broadband, the staff who explained on behalf of Jeremy Kung says they are unable to divulge the information. Which was retorted by me that this is an international measurement parameter and it is freely available for countries like Thailand and Indonesia. The final response was that the information are surveys done by third
party and they do not have the data. Which I accepted in order not to prolong and sidetrack the whole exercise.

After my query on IBPC, the other customers built on the point of “speed not enough” started the volleys of complaints. A customer who subscribed to 4Mbps package have local connection of 7Mbps. However, international speed was still very bad. Case in point given was the constant and very long buffering of youtube videos.

He emphasised that there’s no quality of speed given by Streamyx. Which he elaborated as no consistency of speed.

Among other issues brought up was the discrimination of users according to IP address family. This lead to the discussion of slow connections between 9am to 5pm. Customers claim that during these hours, TM Net have signed agreement with some banks, such as Standard Charted guaranteed bandwidth.

TM Net staff went on the defensive and says that banks are on special package which cost a bomb. Which of course not only does not satisfy those who were present but also turn the heat up a few notches.

The discussion then developed into the point of network neutrality. I argued that regardless of what package we paid for, the data packets must be treated equal. Which is not the case now. And I claimed that TM Net murdered network neutrality before there’s even any public discourse on it.

Further point which was raised relating to quality of speed is that TM Net does not have enough International Bandwidth to support its current customer base. And that TM Net has oversold their available International Bandwidth to corporate customers such as the banks and other ISPs such as P1 Wimax.

Almost all the customers present were subscribers to 2Mbps and above. Many upgraded their packages from 1Mbps to 2 or 4 Mbps thinking that that would solve their woes of slow connection. And unanimously it was not the case.

At this juncture, I took the opportunity to air my case, that my 4Mbps package was slower than my brother’s 512kbps package as claimed by him. I also provided copies of speedtest print-outs to 22 destinations all over the world as proof of the state of connection.

Most of the discussion (discontentment) was with speed provided by Streamyx. Unanimously all the customers present felt that the arrival of HSBB will not solve the problem. All the customers present also point out that they are not a customer of TM Net by choice. And given a choice, they would not subscribed to Streamyx

Another specific issue brought up was, the response of TM Net over complaints filled at the end of the week. If the complaints were filed on Thursday, it will only be addressed by next Monday noon time. The customer said this cost him a lot of international business over the weekend.

The final specific issue which I brought up was the collection of RM88.00 for upgrade installation of Streamyx package. In the present of Jeremy Kung, the staff in charge clarified that there is no installation charge for existing customers who wants to upgrade. And whoever have been charged RM88 for installation during upgrade should contact TM Net as soon as possible.

As a conclusion, the exercise was successful as only to the extent that customer could air their views and complaints direct to the CEO, Jeremy Kung. However, throughout, the responses from TM Net staffs were defensive and provided no promises or solutions.

As far as I am concerned, the only way to save Malaysia from going down the information black-hole and continue to drop behind the rest of the world is a full and complete liberalisation of Internet service from end to end, viz. International Landing Rights, Local Exchange, Last Mile Copper/ Fibre. TM Net could not and will not change as long as there’s no competition.

Telekom Malaysia owes Malaysians and the country more satisfactory and acceptable answers to the many issues raised.

If there is no significant improvements in the TM performance and streamyx services, DAP and Pakatan Rakyat MPs will ask for a meeting with the top TM leadership.

Why is the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Minister for Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Rais Yatim so passive and even indifferent in allowing Telekom Malaysia to fail in its national mission to catapult Malaysia into the forefront of ICT nations as promised by former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when he launched the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) more than a decade ago?

I call on Rais to give his personal attention to the unsatisfactory answers on all the important issues raised as he will have to answer to Parliament both for Telekom Malaysia’s failure as well as his Ministry’s failure to exercise proper supervision and monitoring of Telekom Malaysia’s monopoly position and streamyx services.

  1. #1 by HJ Angus on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 10:41 am

    Don’t expect too much from the Info Minister who is still grappling with the “1Malaysia” thingy.
    The basic problem with service providers is that there is little recourse for consumers apart from switching and the authorities do not fine companies for failing to meet performance standards.
    If they want to learn more, that tiny dot down south has such standards and companies like SMRT and Singtel get fines for under-performance.
    In Malaysia, most things just carry on with the famous “Malaysia Boleh!” mantra.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 11:09 am

    Get rid of the gaji buta clowns warming their seats in TM Net and the service will improve

    The king of Wu tested Sun Tzu’s skills by commanding him to train his harem of 360 concubines into soldiers. Sun divided them into two companies, appointing the two concubines most favored by the king as the company commanders. When Sun first ordered the concubines to face right, they giggled. In response, Sun said that the general, in this case himself, was responsible for ensuring that soldiers understood the commands given to them. Then, he reiterated the command, and again the concubines giggled. Sun then ordered the execution of the king’s two favored concubines, to the king’s protests. He explained that if the general’s soldiers understood their commands but did not obey, it was the fault of the officers. Sun also said that once a general was appointed, it was their duty to carry out their mission, even if the king protested. After both concubines were killed, new officers were chosen to replace them. Afterward, both companies performed their maneuvers flawlessly.

  3. #3 by OrangRojak on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 11:31 am


    There’s insufficient interest. Malaysia’s transition to DPRK (K for Ketuanan?) is almost complete. Soon we’ll be too poor to afford a telephone, let alone broadband. The loudspeakers broadcasting “1Malaysia” messages next to the billboards of our Dear Leader will eventually wear down all counter-convolutionary thinking, and we will all believe we are the best in the world.

    As Nazri said recently “… while BN rules …”. There you have it. I wonder if the Rulers were surprised about who was now ruling? BN accomplished the transition to a Pipul’s Demografik Republik a while ago, they just haven’t formally announced it yet.

    Next year ‘broadband’ will be what you wear around your left upper arm to identify yourself as a ‘tolerated visitor in certain areas only’. Mahathir’s dream is close to being realised. When nobody can moan online, where got Dilemma?

  4. #4 by k1980 on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 11:44 am

    As in the DPRK, the 13 GE will be replaced by elections which are non-competitive and have only single candidate races.

    umno will select a single candidate for each constituency and the voters have the choice of ticking in either of the ‘Yes’ or “No’ boxes. And woe betide the idiot who chose the “No” option….He or she will suffer a sudden death of falling from the 14th floor of the voting centre

  5. #5 by LG on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 11:57 am

    What kind of broadband in Malaysia???

    I fully agreed that Streamyx performance is slow snail pace. Even upgrading to 4M package still experiencing such poor performance.Thus probably the international bandwidth per TM customer is not sufficient and TM does not want to admit. So what are they taking of HSBB up to 100Mbps? Fibre optics technology? Wimax?

    Is our Information Minister sleeping? Many times we heard him speaking. All kinds of garbish talks …… Please wake up Dr Rais Yatim and do your job, focus on improving HSBB. We are far, far behind our counterparts Singapore, Taiwan, Korea, etc? Why did our PM select him for such portfolio .. an incompetent, nonsensical and dim-witted person?

  6. #6 by i_love_malaysia on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 12:02 pm

    The standard answer by TM to customer complain is always the same “We are providing the internet speed base on “best” effort”.
    As all of you are aware now that TM’s Net’s “best” effort is based on their own definition of best effort. When TM Net’s “best” effort is below par, there’s not much hope for subscribers to get what they had paid for!!!

  7. #7 by i_love_malaysia on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 12:20 pm

    Najis is not paying enough attention to information technology even though he might be talking a lot about it. Just look at the no. of portfolios under Rais Yatim. May be it is one way of rewarding RY for his support and there are many contracts under Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture to be awarded, else RY must be a Superman to take care of so many portfolios or on the other hand, he is only giving 33.33333% of his time on each portfolio!!! So what can we expect from him??? Moreover, he is spending a lot of his time talking about using the term selsema babi (Swine flu) instead of A(H1N1) as if only those who consume pork will get the disease and those who dont will not, see what happens to Malaysia now!!! RY should really spend more of his time on improving all the portfolios under his care. If he is not competent as his many colleague, he should ask Najis to have more minister to handle each portfolio, we wont mind that tax payers money being used to have more ministers as long as they perform!!! May be 3 Ministers to handle one ministry, so that each minister only need to spend 33.33333% of their time on each ministry and the rest for attending their parti matters!!!

  8. #8 by ekompute on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 - 2:53 pm

    “Can Malaysia get out of the information black-hole as a result of snail-pace broadband to join the ranks of super-fast broadband nations?”

    And why would they want it? After all, the blogosphere is so anti-BN-government. If it had been the reverse, you can be sure that we would have join the ranks of super-fast broadband nations in the world long ago, LOL. This nation exist to serve UMNO, not the other way round… just remember that.

  9. #9 by rexis on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 - 2:09 am

    When I was in Hong Kong, I saw their broadband package is HKD188 for 100MB bandwidth.

    I am on a RM90 512KB package. Spot the difference?

    Obviously I can’t afford a special package that cost a bomb, in fact, the low end 512KB is already considered a bomb to me.

    Being in the IT field for several years, I have always been dealing with Streamyx disconnection problem, be it MNC or SME. And I can never stop amazed by their customer service lack of skills and common sense.

    Here are a few examples:

    My internet line down, and I was asked to get a 2nd PC to test the connection, and I just happened to be one of the unfortunate household that only have a single PC at home.

    My internet line down, when I told the CS that I was on a linux firewall, I was told to switch to a Windows. Apparently they do not entertain any linux problem as if they lack of skill in this, and lack of common sense about security risk of by passing firewall.

    Too often the CS lacks English skill even though there is an English option.

    Is it all because we can’t afford a package that cost a bomb?

    Let me use a very simple illustration about our internet access. It is exactly like Federal Highway, you can do beyond 100km/h during wee hours but can’t even do 2km/h during the time you need it most, and as usual, only VIP or those who can afford the cost of a bomb will have police escort and cut through jam.

    And no matter how you would like to expand Federal Highway, to 5 lanes, 10 lanes, 20 lanes, elevate the whole thing, add more tolls, it still won’t help the situation any better as long as the LDP bottleneck is still there.

    And now they are telling me about fair usage when I don’t even get fair service. What to do, we have no choice but to use the “fastest” broadband in Malaysia.

    And there is this plan for Information Minister or something about pushing the popularity of broadband? I couldn’t help but LOL, especially when I have to wait HALF A YEAR to get my broadband installed, even if I am in the heart of big city like PJ.


  10. #10 by kahsinaw on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 - 12:02 pm

    Allo kawan macam mana nak jaga pasal broadband, kalau kita tanya the nations communication head yang sekarang dan dulu dulu apa itu itu RAM saya geranti satu pun tak tau.

  11. #11 by bigcloud on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 - 10:23 pm

    I must confess, I do have a fairly good streamyx connection in Skudai, JB. At times, I am also having constant line disconnection or dropline that is being connected but no data transmitted.

    I told TMnet that I have 2 pc, 2 routers and 1 adsl modem. TMnet insisted to come to my house to check the line before they could act further. After countless visits to TMnet, I gave out. Somehow, strange enough the problem just disappeared by itself.

  12. #12 by Viper on Thursday, 6 August 2009 - 2:02 am

    Conflicting Information regarding RM88 billing for existing customers. I just recently went to TMPoint to ask about this as I am new 4MB Combo user (just upgraded last month from 1MB), I was told I still need to pay for the RM88 for upgrading since its a charge for sending technicians to test 2MB & 4MB customers line before approving the upgrades. I read in that all higher package users 2MB & 4MB are charged the RM88 fee as well.

  13. #13 by Viper on Thursday, 6 August 2009 - 7:31 am

    Regarding the RM88 billing issue, is it confirm that existing users upgrading to 4MB package shouldn’t be charge this fee? Can we request for rebate to get it back then? Reason I ask about this is I just recently went to TM Point, I raise this billing issue with them and was told by the staff there that the RM88 fee is for paying service of having technician coming over to test our line before finally approving our upgrades.

    I have read in forum, that most if not all 2MB & 4MB users are charged this fee for upgrading their package.

  14. #14 by Viper on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 12:54 am

    RM88 billing for upgrade to 4MB package for existing customers.

    I am a former 1MB user who recently upgraded to 4MB, I have tried emailing TM’s CS requesting rebate for this but was denied. Their response was “we regret to inform that we unable to proceed with any rebate as per requested because it is valid and payable.”

    Can you help those of us who upgraded?

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